Luther’s Notes on the Sunday Gospel: Last Sunday (Trinity 27) – Eternal Life

Last Sunday of the Church Year
Trinity 27

Heaven’s Eternal Joy: The Bride of Christ

Matthew 25:1-13
New King James Version

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Luther’s Explanatory Notes:

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bride groom.

Ten virgins. “Virgin ” signifies purity. A virgin herself does not court, but is courted. Thus God courts for souls, has his goods offered to them and courts them. (2 Cor. 11:2) When a bridegroom loves a virgin, he cares only for the virgin, not how rich, how beautiful or how poor she is. Thus also Christ looks upon them as virgin souls, and looks not upon their defects.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Five were wise, etc. Some of them believe the word, come forth and do good works, and let their lamps shine before the world; for they are well supplied with lamps and oil; that is, with faith and love; these are pointed out to us as the wise virgins.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

The foolish virgins. On the other hand the foolish virgins have only lamps; that is, outward appearance and show, and they act according to their manner, continually saying, “Lord, Lord.” Matt. 7:22.

The mouth is here, indeed, but the heart is far from God. They are not in earnest, seek their own and not God’s honor only, there is no fear of God in them; they rejoice, indeed, they want to be at the wedding, but there is no oil; that is, no faith in them. They imagine for themselves a thought, a fancy in the heart which they regard as oil.

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

The wise took oil in their vessels. The wise virgins have the right faith, which God has wrought and put into their hearts, whereby they can protect themselves. The oil, which we have, is the unction of the Holy Ghost. (1 John 2:27) This function is a certain knowledge of God, which burns, and they live in fear, and apprehend that God might be angry with them. Therefore they anxiously entreat the bridegroom and pray for mercy. But while they thus cry, their lamps burn, and they expect from God the best gifts in all their solicitude.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Slumbered and slept. It is consoling, that it is said, they “all” slept, both the wise and the foolish. The wise also sleep; true Christians also sin sometimes. But the assurance and consolation are here: Despair not! there are people in the kingdom of heaven who are sleepy. God can endure sin in his kingdom; if only the sinner acknowledges his sin and repents of it, God opens the door when the sinner knocks.

6 And at midnight, there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

The bridegroom cometh. This is the consolation, the bridegroom permits the cry to come before him and calls us to himself. No one need despair; let none look upon his imperfect life.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Lamps gone out. A troubled conscience have they who seek help only when the bridegroom cometh, and must give up their self-conceit; then they begin to see what ails them; then there is a revelation of sin, that they are afraid of God, when they should have run to him for their greatest good.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

Go and buy for yourselves, etc. These unhappy virgins go and seek all kinds of help from the people; therefore have they no peace and no rest. But the wise virgins have great joy on account of the voice of the bride groom, whose goods they all enjoy (John 3:29.) This is the greatest joy of the wise virgins, to hear the voice of God, as David also prays, Psalm 51:13-14.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Lord, open to us. They should have called out, O Lord, and dear bridegroom. But as they did not call thus, the Lord says, “I know you not; they are within who ought to be in. Depart from me,” etc. That will then be a terrible judgment; then they shall be forsaken by all saints, yea, by all creatures; for whom the Lord does not know, him will no one know. When we regard him only as a Lord, then there is no consolation and re demption. Why do they not cry to the Bridegroom? Because they have no oil. Why do they run to the people for oil? Because they have never known the Bridegroom. Just so the rich man in hell cries, My lamp is gone out, send Lazarus. This rich man seeks from Lazarus, and finds nothing.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Watch therefore. Let everyone see to it that he has both these two things, the oil; that is, the right trust, and faith in Christ, and the lamp; that is the outward servitude toward his neighbor.

Luther’s Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 140-141.  (Matthew from pp. 42-43)

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